Sgts. Omar Mora and Yance Gray (again); The City of Raleigh; Orange County Commissioners | Heroes & Zeros | Indy Week

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Sgts. Omar Mora and Yance Gray (again); The City of Raleigh; Orange County Commissioners

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We named Sgts. Omar Mora and Yance Gray, members of Ft. Bragg's 82nd Airborne, heroes last month for co-authoring, with five of their fellow soldiers, a 1,300-word opinion piece, "The War as We Saw It," in The New York Times. Now Mora and Gray are heroes again. Mora, a native of Ecuador, had recently received his U.S. citizenship papers when he and Gray died in a truck accident last month in Iraq. Gray was finishing his fourth tour of duty when he was killed. The last line of their NYT article read: "As committed soldiers, we will see this mission through."

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The City of Raleigh is asking the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources for permission to forgo cleaning up nitrogen contamination near its wastewater treatment plant in southern Wake County. Instead, the city is requesting the state break its own rules to allow Raleigh to use "natural attenuation"—in other words, to let the nitrogen levels fall over time. City officials also propose installing several extraction wells to remove contaminated groundwater. That's a far cry from what will be required if the state refuses to approve the variance: Raleigh could be required to install 425 extraction wells, as well as pay up to $80 million for a more thorough cleanup.

For more than 20 years, the City applied nitrogen-rich sewage sludge on 1,000 acres of fields near the plant; runoff from the sludge then migrated into the nearby Neuse River and the groundwater, contaminating several private drinking water wells. Those wells have since been abandoned; the residents now are on city water.

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Although the Orange County Commissioners last month said they would "take under advisement" reversing their unanimous decision to place a waste transfer station near a predominantly African-American community on Rogers Road, it was a rotten idea to locate it there in the first place. It's the commissioners' responsibility to solve the county's trash problem without further burdening the Rogers Road neighborhood.

Know about a local hero or zero? E-mail tips to heroesandzeros@indyweek.com.

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